Tag Archives: Adam Curtis

Erroneous Assumptions

War Games

During the days of the Cold War the danger of nuclear proliferation by the hands of the “Red” Soviets weighed heavy over those within the United States Army and the United States government. The impending threat of an nuclear attack and/or war lead to the movement for the monitoring and prediction of enemy military plans by calculation and record of all options within a possible military attack. This threat lead to the eventual research, development and implementation of what is termed in De Landa’s article as war games.

 Two war theoreticians named Jomini and Clausewitz would rise to prominence within this area based of off the strategic military history of Napoleon. Jomini argued for a total elimination of any sources of friction (friction within this article means “any event or circumstance that may upset the implementation of the military plan” ) , and advocated the view of war as an endeavor ruled by “eternal laws”, which did not include the need for political maneuvering. In contrast Clausewitz argued that war did adhere to certain general guidelines or rules, however it included a political view of the military situation which enabled a strategy that could better deal with friction and could be easily manipulated to the situations unique factors. Despite the actual proof of the validity of war games from the Clausewitz’s approach, as witnessed in Helmuth von Moltke’s strategies during the Franco-Prussian war, Jominian theories prevailed due to Sheiflen’s leadership in World War I, and lead to the foundation of the current war game models first devised during the 1950s.

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War Games and the End of the World

In this section of War in the Age of Intelligent Machines, Manuel de Landa recounts the role of modern war games in predicting military conflict. When modern war games first came into being, there were two theories of how these games should be played  to accurately predict battles. There was the theory of Jomini: war as a purely military concern, governed by a set of eternal laws that act as the basis of the game.  There was also the theory of Clausewitz: war as an extension of politics with outside factors such as friction and fear, taken into account. In the end, it was Jomini’s theory that became the basis of modern war games.

De Landa suggests that war games consist of two components:  hardware and software. The hardware component consists of a model of a stretch of terrain or a map. The software component consists of a relatively rigid set of rules that represent the laws of warfare, as suggested by Jomini.

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